Massively's readers (you) interview EQ2's Senior Producer

About two weeks ago we asked you to pass on some questions we could give to the EverQuest 2 team. Our own team of bloggers and columnists pitched in a few questions as well, and we brought the best of those to the attention of EQ2's Senior Producer Bruce Ferguson. He answered several of our questions in-depth, though some of his answers may not be exactly what you were hoping to hear.

Read on below the cut to see your questions answered! Mr. Ferguson chats about the purpose of the Living Legacy program, future plans for developing PvP in the game, and even tackles that burning question about solo vs. group play. Also, about the possibility of flying mounts in Norrath ...

The Living Legacy campaign offers substantial benefits to returning players. What, if anything, can long-time players look forward to from the campaign. Will they ever receive free play time or in-game items tied to the promotion?

Bruce Ferguson:
The answer to both of the ending questions is "Yes." but not in the way most people anticipate.

"We are very pleased with how well received the appearance tab has been."

With the "Fight with Legends" recruitment campaign that just launched, long-time players can earn substantially more "free play" time than the returning players. Up to twenty months of time to be specific! So there is ample opportunity for long-time players to receive some "free play" time.

Also, with content like Heroic Runnyeye, and the upcoming Veksar dungeon, that content is really only accessible to long-time players. The overwhelming majority of the returning players just can't get to, or survive in those places. While it's not gated by an identifier that says "Returning Players Not Welcome!" a realistic look at this content notes that it's not accessible to the returning players until well after they are paying subscribers; and we designed it with the long-term players in mind.

The appearance tab is a favorite feature for EQ2 players. It's great to be able to choose a suit of armor that looks good and fits your perception of the character without sacrificing your ability to fight effectively. It also makes the city merchant items and various mob drops more desirable to earn. Are there any plans to add appearance slots for weapons and shields? If not, why not?

There are no current plans to do this. One of the primary reasons is that it starts to screw up the combat animations for the weapons and shields. We are very pleased with how well received the appearance tab has been, but adding that option for weapons and shields opens up the doors to many problems that make it prohibitive to consider as anything other than a long time project, and we don't have room on the plate for something of that nature right now.

Will PVP characters ever be allowed to transfer to non-PVP servers? What are SOE's future plans to further develop the PvP servers? As it stands raid gear is better than PvP gear, which forces many pvper's to raid to be able to compete with the raiding guilds. Are there any plans to merge the PvP servers to help with the population issues?

That's a fast blast of questions all over the PvP range! There are no current plans to allow PvP characters to transfer to non-PvP servers. The character records for PvP and PvE characters have radical differences between them, making any change of a large scale technically difficult.

"EQII delivers different gameplay options for different sorts of gamers. Moving forward we plan to continue to support all existing modes of play."

As to our long term plans for the PvP servers, we do have people on the team who are attentive to the needs of our PvP players, and they do what they can where the development schedule allows with the focus of creating a PvP environment that is both exciting and challenging.

Topics such as itemization between raid and PvP gear are evergreen topics, especially in a game such as EverQuest II where itemization and progression are inherently tied. We will continue to do our best there, but balance is more like a pendulum than a fixed point solution, so as the PvE game changes, we have to see how it affects the PvP live game, and then adjust as necessary, when necessary.

There are no current plans to merge the PvP servers; or any servers, to be honest.

Previous expansions to the game have focused on high-end raiding content, or group play. The most recent expansion, Rise of Kunark, made a great deal of solo content available to players. Moving forward, which style of gameplay do you expect EverQuest II to focus on?

The short answer is "Yes." The longer answer is that EQII delivers different gameplay options for different sorts of gamers. Moving forward we plan to continue to support all existing modes of play. Similar to the pendulum analogy for balance, there's an ever changing target for the appropriate mix of solo versus group content, and we try to listen to the feedback from our community to help us gauge where the balance is at any point in time.

Can we look forward to any additional content or revisions of old-world areas, ala Heroic Runnyeye?

That is something we would like to do again, where the schedule permits. "Runnyeye the Gathering" was a great content addition for long-term players as it gave them a reason to revisit an old zone that they may have seen in the past, but with challenges and rewards that are appealing to them now.

SOE's reorganization under SCEE seems like an interesting opportunity for new initiatives. For example, are there any plans to integrate EverQuest II with the PlayStation 3 Home service? Might we be able to import our in-game apartments into that service?

"In EverQuest II a player will find an expansive number of gameplay options that really allow them to control how they progress through the game. There is no one "right" way to play the game, or a single particular favored path that we develop for."

There are no current plans to mix EQII and PlayStation Home. The two were developed independently, and with no plan of having them function together, so making your EQII apartment importable into PlayStation Home would require a ground up production, from both teams, which would quickly prove prohibitive.

Will guild halls be instanced or real buildings given on a first-come, first-served basis? If they are real buildings, can we modify their external look?

The guild halls will be instanced off of common entry points. This will prevent a land rush, clutter, and the breakup of quest flow through the affected zones. It also ensures we always have space for another guild to have their hall!

Will flying mounts ever be implemented, and if so, will they be for new content only?

There are no current plans to implement flying mounts into EQII beyond the travel mounts that already exist. If it were to be done as a future project, it would require that every open air zone was retrofitted to have "sky" locations that currently do not exist. That complication makes what might look like a simple task quite an undertaking. I will admit, however, that it is a topic that we discuss wistfully frequently.

Will we ever get to really sit in those cool player crafted thrones and chairs?

Who has time to sit in a world filled with adventure opportunities? Seriously, animations for sitting in chairs, etc. were never developed for EQII, so it's more of an undertaking than it seems on the surface, making it unlikely to happen in the future. Between the size differences from Ogres to gnomes, it would also be difficult to find a chair that would fit everyone, and then make the necessary animations.

Will you ever allow direct purchase of the items you can currently get only by buying LoN booster packs?

Purchasing loot items in EQII instead of receiving them as booster rewards is not under current consideration.

Are there any server mergers, or new servers, planned?

Nope. We have no current plans to merge any servers, or open new ones.

What do you feel is the key selling point for EverQuest II that would pull a player into Norrath, over games like WoW, AoC, etc?

Depth and flexibility. In EverQuest II a player will find an expansive number of gameplay options that really allow them to control how they progress through the game. There is no one "right" way to play the game, or a single particular favored path that we develop for.

Instead players will find that EQII has multiple layers of gameplay that all mesh well together and encourage people to play at their own pace, in their own way.

This article was originally published on Massively.